Category Archives: Why Postbox?

How we got here

Purrrrrfect portraits!



Free £25 Pet/Family Portrait session and print – just collect the coupons!

What a great idea!     We get lots of families coming into the studio wanting a family portrait – Mum, Dad, 2.5 Imagechildren and maybe a couple of grandparents. But, very often, the family is not complete because Fido is at home, probably sulking and chewing the leg of your best chair just to show that he, too, would have liked to be included in the family portrait.  He would have cocked his head on one side and looked cute for the camera but, no, he wasn’t invited.

Of course we have photographed dogs at Postbox.  Frisky labradors who sniff all round the studio, reception and changing room before deciding whether to cooperate – a big, old, ploddy Irish Wolfhound who just plonked himself down in the middle of the studio in a “ok let’s get this over with” kind of way.  Then there was Ruudy who competed with his girls, Emma and Clare for the most beautiful hair of the group.  And how could we forget the basket full of Chihuahuas?


You get the idea – we’re fine with dogs. So we were really looking forward to booking in the Daily Mail clients for their family/pet portraits.  We phoned the first two numbers and yes you guessed it – CATS!

Mmmmmn!  This is a completely different scenario.  Have you ever tried telling a cat to “sit”?  Impossible! A cat does what he wants to do –  which is usually the exact opposite of what you want him to do.  Well there’s only one way to find out how a cat will react – “Felix, Scoobie look what we’ve got for you in the Studio”.  Felix, as you would imagine is black and white.  He was given to us 10 years ago as a stray.  He was so timid he wouldn’t come to us or let us pet him for the first 5 years and still gets very anxious in strange surroundings – not the best model for a photoshoot.  Scoobie, also a stray, has got to be one of the most annoying cats in the world, she chases the curser on the PC screen and sits on the keyboard when you’re trying to work.  She definitely will not cooperate.

Well what a surprise!  Felix, after a little coaxing sat and posed for a good half hour then went and sat on the sofa in reception – just like a real client!

Scoobie was a bit more difficult but Amy still got some great results!

So bring on the cats!

(Just phoned the next client – has anyone got a snake we can practice on?)


The work begins………


So, if you been following the story you will know that I managed, after much stress, to buy the old Post Office in Smithybridge and that, with no money to spend, I was content to live in my big empty shell of a house with all my belongings around me, still in boxes.

best photographer rochdaleWell, I scraped some money together and got the place rewired and then a few months later a new boiler.  But that’s all the boring stuff – what was exciting was the large empty room downstairs that had been the Post Office.  The first thing we did was to get my good friend, Tony, who was to do all our building work, to bring his table tennis table.  (Well you have to get your priorities right!)  By the time we’d decided what to do down there we were world champions quite good at ping-pong.

best photographer rochdaleYou’ve met my Mum, haven’t you? (in previous posts, that is).  Being a canny woman, she had put a clause in her Will that meant that her grandchildren would only get their inheritance when they turned 25.  This gave Amy a good eighteen months to dream.  No doubt she dreamed of travelling the world or at least taking an exotic holiday or even going on a wild spending spree but, when it came to it, “sensible” Amy took over and she decided to put her money into setting up her own photography studio.  It wasn’t a fortune but enough to create a simple studio and reception.  And so, with some money put away to buy cameras, lenses and studio lights…………..

…….. we got down to work.

Buying and selling houses is really easy – not.


Surely it can’t be that difficult

And so my little house in Chadderton went on the market ………just at the time of the housing market slump.  But then, I suppose it works both ways, as a seller and a buyer, so maybe it wouldn’t be too bad. I got an offer – excellent.  I put an offer on the post office and it was accepted – excellent.  It’s easy this house buying lark.

Two weeks later the sale on my house fell through.  It was January – “Don’t worry”  the estate agent said,  “the market will pick up in the summer”.  “THE SUMMER!”  I couldn’t wait for the summer!  Anyway summer came and then autumn and then winter.

The Housebuying File
Solicitors letters, reports, insurance indemnities, more reports (on Coal and Brine, why do I need that?), letters saying “Yes” and then letters saying “Computer says No”, more reports “because the last reports you had done are now out of date”.

After nearly a year on the market my little house sold – for a lot less than I needed.      In the meantime I’d discovered that, because the Post Office was a commercial property, I needed a commercial mortgage and this was virtually impossible to get for the small amount of money I needed.  My buyer wanted to exchange at the  beginning of November and the money coming from my Mum would be available in December.  HELP!   And help I got.  In the form of my lovely friend Judith.  “Put all your things in storage and come and stay with me” she said.  So furniture and books and paintings and books and the piano and more books and everything but the kitchen sink went into storage (everything, that is, except the cats but that’s another story) and I went to stay with Judith.

The Post Office was still for sale, my renewed offer had been accepted and there were three weeks to wait before my money came through.  They were probably the longest three weeks of my life.  What if a mystery buyer were to walk into the estate agent and produce a large wad of cash and buy my Post Office?  I would be homeless!  With a sigh of relief in early in December I put together the equity from my house, the money my Mum had left me, a large overdraft and a few quid that I’d found down the back of the sofa and bought the Post Office for cash.  Phew!

It was three weeks before Christmas, I sat in my big old house with a 30 yr old gas boiler, the wind whistling through the rotting windows, an avocado coloured bathroom suite with lime green tiles, no carpets anywhere in the house and not a penny to spend on it.

You have no idea how happy I was.

From Post Office to Postbox in one not-so-easy step.


I first saw the empty Post Office on one of the those internet house buying sites.  You know, the ones you go on and look at all the amazing houses you definitely can’t afford.  It was my favourite pastime.  I would search and dream of one day buying a really old house that I could do up. I saw the post office – it’s a three storey weavers cottage – tick.  In Smithybridge – I had no idea where Smithybridge was so I looked it up – near Hollingworth Lake – lovely – tick. It’s huge – tick.  As they say on all the house programmes “it ticked all the boxes” (don’t you just hate it when they say that?)  Unfortuately, unlike the people on those house programmes I didn’t have “a £500k budget for the country and only £150k for the pad in town” – in fact I didn’t have any money, just a 2 up – 2 down in Oldham.  Ah well!

Twelve months later my dear old Mum died.  She was great, my Mum, a real trooper.  When she died at 86 I was sad, of course I was sad, but most of all I felt really proud of her.  I’d had many a conversation with her about what a wonderful life she’d had (though she’d not really done much apart from working and bringing up the family) and how it was “about time I wasn’t here”.

And so I had a chunk of money – nothing like those “location location” budgets but enough for my post office dream to be a possibilty.  Thank you Mum.

I looked – it was still on the market!